ADA vs FHA: How do they affect community associations?


The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act have several similarities.

Both outlaw discrimination against individuals with disabilities, require reasonable accommodations and modifications, and mandate features of accessibility, design, and construction.

However, the ADA provides that there cannot be discrimination against persons with disabilities in a place of public accommodation. Unless your property includes a facility that is open to the general public such as a clubhouse, a pool, or parking lot, the provisions of ADA do not apply. The FHA requires that all covered multifamily dwellings designed and constructed for first occupancy after March 13, 1991 be accessible to and usable by people with disabilities.

For a definition of covered multifamily dwellings and other information contact:

There are seven basic requirements that must be met to comply with the access requirement of the act. They are the following:

1-      An accessible building entrance on an accessible route.

2-      Accessible common and public use areas. – Cut outs on curbs, routes without stairs to clubhouse, pool, etc.

3-      Usable doors – Doors to entrances and interior doors must be wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair.

4-      Accessible route into and through the dwelling unit

5-      Light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats and other- no lower than 15 inches or higher than 48 inches from floor.

Environmental controls in accessible locations.

6-      Reinforced walls in bathrooms for later installation of grab bars required around tub, toilet and shower.

7-      Usable kitchens – must allow parallel approach to sink and stove and forward approach to other appliances.

Community associations are required under FHA to make reasonable accommodations when necessary to allow the handicapped owner to enjoy his or her dwelling.

If you are having a problem regarding a disability, handicap, or reasonable accommodation issue you should consult with your attorney before taking any action.

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